Performed By: Audrey Luna, soprano; Gwen Coleman Detwiler, soprano; and Lydia Brown, piano

Subtitle:
12 Songs for Sopranos and Piano

Movements:
I. The Song Rehearsal: Duet, a capella (A. E. Stallings) II. Pregnant: Solo with piano (Cheryl Strayed) III. Ultrasound: Solo with piano (A. E. Stallings) IV. Due Date: Duet with piano (Lauren Groff) V. Alone: Duet with piano (Akiko Yosano, adapt. M K Dean) VI. Mia: Solo with piano (Gina Zucker) VII. First Miracle: Piano solo VIII. Superhero (Birth one): Solo with piano (Phoebe Damrosch) IX. Blood Moon (Patricia Kirkpatrick) X. From the Start (Birth two): Solo with piano (Cheryl Strayed) XI. Five Days (Birth three): Solo with Piano (Heidi Pitlor) XII. I Did It! (Birth four): Duet with piano (Heidi Pitlor)

Instrumentation:
Two or more sopranos with piano

Text:

"It Takes a Building" Copyright © 2014 by Phoebe Damrosch, originally published in Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers (Farrar, Staus and Giroux, 2014)

"The Twin" Copyright © 2014 by Lauren Groff, originally published in Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers (Farrar, Staus and Giroux, 2014)

"Blood Moon" from Tetrad Copyright © 2015 by Patricia Kirkpatrick

"Three" Copyright © 2014 by Heidi Pitlor, originally published in Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers (Farrar, Staus and Giroux, 2014)

"The Song Rehearsal " Copyright © 2006 by Stallings, A. E., originally published in Poetry: Hapax (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2006)

"Ultrasound" Copyright © 2006 by Stallings, A. E., originally published in Poetry: Hapax (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2006)

"The Lavender Room" Copyright © 2014 by Cheryl Strayed, originally published in Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers (Farrar, Staus and Giroux, 2014)

Akiko Yosano, "Labor Pains" Copyright © 1977 by Akiko Yosano, original published in The Burning Heart: Women Poets of Japan (New York: Seabury Press, 1977)

"The Rest of Life" Copyright © 2014 by Gina Zucker, originally published in Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers (Farrar, Staus and Giroux, 2014)


Duration: 35 minutes

Commissioned By:
Gwen Coleman Detwiler and Audrey Luna

Premiere:
June 12, 2015 at SongFest by Audrey Luna (soprano), Gwen Coleman Detwiler (soprano), and Lydia Brown (piano) at Thayer Auditorium of the Colburn School of Music in Los Angeles, California

Available From:
Libby Larsen Publishing

Composer's Notes:

In the summer of 2013, Gwen Detwiler, Audrey Luna, and I were faculty together at SongFest. Waiting for a master class to begin, we found ourselves in a conversation, exchanging stories about what it was like, for each of us, to give birth. Some of our experiences were common to all three of us, others were unique. As we were talking, we remarked that there is very little, if any, art song literature about the experience itself told from the birthing mother's perspective. This seemed strange to us and so we decided to create a work which tells stories of the birth experience in song. All during 2014, we searched for and exchanged ideas for texts, we tried writing our own texts, and we asked our friends to contribute texts. Then Gwen's sister pointed us towards a book of essays, Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today's Best Women Writers edited by Eleanor Henderson and Anna Solomon. For eight of the ten songs we drew from texts by Phoebe Damrosch, Lauren Groff, Heidi Pitlor, Cheryl Strayed, and Gina Zucker. Two additional poems by A. E. Stallings complete the cycle.

The Birth Project, for two sopranos and piano, is a cycle made up of stories: discovering you are pregnant (“The Song Rehearsal,” “Pregnant”), marveling at the mystery of the child growing in the womb (“Ultrasound”), being past the due date (“Due Date”), intense aloneness (“Alone”), letting go of fear (“Mia”), and four birth stories (“Superhero,” “From the Start,” “Five Days,” “I did it!”).